We’re going on a dragon hunt.
We’re not scared.
(because we have Harry with a forked stick with us)
We’re going to see a big one!
(they can run fast, too, says our guide PaulM, be careful)
All is quiet as we step forth into the forest. We hear an exotic bird’s call and look up to try to spot it. Harry laughs – it was his cellphone!
Ok, this is serious! Look in the mud, there’s the trail from a dragon’s tail, freshly made this morning! PaulM tells us that yesterday, a dragon ran out amongst his group and that one could appear at any time. He’s telling us this to make us better prepared, he says, not to frighten us…
We obey the rules written on the board and note that someone has helpfully left a signppost behind
We creep around the corner and what’s there?
Watch your step!
Tadah! Two large (12 – 15ft long) male dragons sitting there in a small clearing, watching as our little group took copious photographs. One rose to his feet and shambled along a little way, alerting the two young men with forked sticks who were hopefully there to take care of us should a dragon make a run for it.
I tried to get a photograph of his fifteen inch forked and bacteria-laden tongue but sadly wasn’t quick enough to reset my camera. But oh my, those feet…
that skin…those wrinkles!
No sooner had we left those two to their own devices, we spotted another, lurking in the trees. This one, rather younger, stopped still as we passed.
We made our way back with a few stops to hear about the plants and trees which grow here, admiring a few wild orchids as we passed.
And then, we exited through the gift shop!
We’d heard of the cheap strings of pearls on sale here and sure enough, there they were. We did a little bargaining and took a couple of strings away with us at a good price – or so we thought. Without Allan, our bargaining guru, we were a little less confident but stood firm on the price we were willing to pay, eventually achieving the deal.
Boarding the tender, we remembered how hot we’d been last time so made a bee line for the open doorway and sat on the jump seats. No sooner had we done so than the heavens opened and it poured with rain. We got slightly wet (understatement!)
But approaching the ship, what was this? Were the Captain and his crew having a little kayaking fun? Had someone learned from Harry’s lecture yesterday and cast a few adrift in open boats?
Well, no. Want to buy pearls at good price, Madam?
Turning up to Trivia wearing our new acquisitions, we waited to hear how our master shopper had fared in the pearl market and held our breath as he told us how he had bought five strings for the same price as we had paid for two! Since two of those strings were for me, I wasn’t complaining – but oh my, we have a lot to learn!
So tonight, we’ll all be girls in pearls – once we’ve dried out, that is.
In answer to your questions, NewLondon, we could choose between a one hour (short) and a two hour (1.5km) walk in the forest. We had to takea guide and be in the company of a ranger - it was not possible simply to stroll independently around and we were counted frequently to make sure all was well. The walk was flat, on compacted mud paths (which might have been boggy had the rain come earlier). As far as I can tell, everyone saw at least one dragon. Though there are only between 1 and 2k living on the island, some saw a couple more. The group just yards in front of us saw 5 - we saw 3.
The weather was hot and humid but overcast. We wore hats and took water, walked slowly and quietly, stopped frequently to listen to the guide speak about the trees and plants. We chose the longer walk because who knows if we will come this way again? Pleased we did - but whether those who went later and got soaked to the skin agreed, who knows? (Actually, I do - our friend did so and wouldn't hvae missed it for the world!)